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The Most Important Keywords for Your Job Search and Career

By Susan P. Joyce

One set of keywords is critical to the success of your job search, but, like most of us, you probably aren't paying much attention to them. Time to change that!

These keywords should uniquely identify you in every search of every search engine, or, at a minimum, have you appear on the first page of search results when this set of keywords is used in a search.

Those Critical Keywords: Your "Professional Name"

This is the professional version of the screen names people have used for many years in online forums and chat rooms.

You could think of this as your "screen name" like actors have had in the past when we saw their names up on the movie screen. Unless being a movie or TV star is your career goal, we're talking computer screens (tablet and smart phone screens, too), not movie or TV screens.

This does NOT involve going through the process of changing your name legally. That name is unchanged. This involves changing the version of your name used in your work and your job search -- whenever you are visible as a professional. You may add or remove a middle initial or middle name, and other similar simple changes.

Read Finding the Best Version of Your Name for Your Job Search for more details.

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Why Your "Professional Name" Is SO Important

Because, when you apply for a job or are under consideration for an opportunity, recruiters and employers will conduct an Internet search on the name used in the application or resume more than 80% of the time!

If that recruiter or hiring manager (or networking contact) can't find you online when they are looking for you, you have a serious problem - one that could cost you a job opportunity!

When they conduct that search, they need to find your professional presence quickly and easily, preferably on the first page of search results on a search for your name (because few people go to page two).

Five ways your professional screen name helps you:

  1. It shows employers and recruiters "social proof" of the qualifications your resume or application claims you have.
  2. It connects employers and recruiters to credibility-building content that validates what your resumes and profiles claim.
  3. It separates your online identity from others who have the same name but are not you and may, in fact, have done things publicly that could damage opportunities for you.
  4. It enables members of your network to find you easily.
  5. It keeps your public informal identity separate from your public professional identity.

Employers, recruiters, and networking contacts can help your job search - if they can find YOU.

What Is a "Professional Name"

Your "professional screen name" is the version of your name you use whenever and where ever you have a professional presence. 

Your professional screen name is the version of your name that you use consistently for:

  • Your resumes
  • Your cover letters
  • Your LinkedIn Profile
  • Your professional Google+ Profile
  • Your professional/work email
  • Your name tags at professional meetings
  • Your professional blog, guest posts, and comments
  • Your professional Facebook and Twitter activities
  • Your professional Pinterest and Quora activities
  • Your other professional activities, online and off

It is the name you always use to reach out to employers and your professional network. It establishes and supports your online professional persona.

Next: Finding the Best Version of Your Name for Your Job Search

Bottom Line

Your name is how people find you online. Use one version consistently, like actors and actresses have done for decades. One version of your name used for all of your professional activities online and offline will enable employers, recruiters, and people in your network to find you.

For More Information About Names Online

More about Keywords:


About the author...

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.


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